The Prophet (May Peace be upon him) said: ‘An angel which had never visited me before came into the house today. The Angel told me: This grandson of yours, Husain SA, will surely be killed. And if you wish (desire it) I can give you some of the soil of that land (Karbala) which he will die in.’ The Prophet then said: ‘He (the Angel) then brought me a soil that was red’.
Every Shi’ah Muslim wishes, from a tender age, to visit the Holy Shrines of Maulana Ali SA and Imaam Husain SA. Historically, devotees have saved for a lifetime in order to visit Karbala Mo’alla and Najaf-ul-Ashraf. My husband Abazer and I were lucky to pay visit to these Shrines on our tour, which commenced on 24th November and ended on 8th December 2013. Though devotees visit these Holy Shrines all through the year, it is considered to be privileged to get a chance to visit during the Holy month of Muharram (1st month of the Islamic calendar).
This month also marks the martyrdom of Imaam Husain SA at Karbala along with 72 martyrs on the 10th of Muharram also known as “Ashura”. Imaam Husain SA is the grandson of Prophet Muhammed SAW and Khatija-tul-Kubra AS, and son of Maulana Ali SA and Maulatena Fatema-tuz-Zahra SA. The names of a few other martyrs include Abbas Alamdar SA (commander-in-chief), Ali Akbar SA, Ali Asghar SA, Kasim Alaisalam (son of Imaam Hasan SA) and Aun-o-Mohammed SA (sons of Maulatena Zainab SA). This Jihad was fought in 680 AD between good and evil. The martyrs were of all ages, the oldest being Habib-ibn-Mazahid aged 70 to Ali Asghar SA aged 6 months only. Imaam Husain SA was 54 years of age, Abbas Alamdar SA was 36 years old, Ali Akbar SA was 18 years old and Qasim Alaisalam was 14 years.
CAIRO :-Following the footsteps of millions who have paid their respects, we too set out for Ziyarat (visit to Holy Shrine) towards Karbala. Our first stop was at Cairo (Egypt). There we visited the Holy Shrine called Ras-ul-Husain SA in the heart of old city. It is believed that this is a site where the head of Imaam Husain SA is buried. We also visited Shrines of Maulatena Zainab SA and Maulatena Rukaiya SA (sisters of Imaam Husain SAand Abbas Alamdar SA), as well as Maulatena Nafisa SA (granddaughter of Imaam Hasan). We also visited Masjid-e-Anwar, which is rebuilt and refurbished by Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin RA.
During our transit period, Egypt Air provided us with accommodation in Cairo’s 5 star hotel called Sonesta Hotel. The stay was both relaxing and refreshing as the service by the staff of the hotel was excellent.
KARBALA :-From Cairo, my husband and I went first to Baghdad by air and onward to Karbala by bus. Our accommodation in Karbala was brilliant; at Fayz-e-Hussaini Trust, which is very close to the Holy Shrines of Abbas Alamdar SA and Imaam Husain SA (in that order). In Karbala, there is a big bazaar (souk) which is also in close proximity to both the Shrines. In this bazaar, Indian rupees can be exchanged for Iraqi Dinaar. This exchange is called ‘Sharaaf’ in Arabic.
In Imaam Husain SA’s Shrine, there are Ziyarats of Ali Akbar, Ali Asghar, Habib-ibn-Mazahid and 72 martyrs called Shohda-e-Karbala. There also is a place called Katalgah, the spot where Imaam Husain SA was martyred. Close to this, there is Zainab SA Tekri i.e. the place from where Maulatena Zainab SA (sister of Imaam Husain SA) saw Imaam Husain SA being martyred at the hands of Shimr LA.
Behind this Tekri, there is a Khaimagah which marks the place where the tents of all Imaam Husain SA’s family members were based. The Khaimagah mark the tents of Imaam Husain SA himself, Abbas Alamdar SA, Maulatena Zainab SA, Imaam Zainul Abedin SA (son of Imaam Husain SA) and Maulatena Sakina SA (daughter of Imaam Husain SA). Lastly, Abbas Alamdar SA’s shrine is located right opposite Imaam Husain SA’s shrine. For paying one’s respects, one must first visit Imaam Hussain SA’s shrine, followed by Abbas Alamdar SA’s; except on the final day of the journey when one first does Ziyarat of Abbas Alamdar SA, followed finally by Imaam Husain SA’s. Devotees pray that they can visit again with their beloved family and friends before departure, which is called Vada Salaam.
Besides this, we had visited the mausoleum of Hurr (AS) who is the first martyr of the Karbala jihad. Though he came as part of the enemy’s camp, his heart prompted him to support Imaam Husain SA and he did so with valor. There also were shrines of the two sons of Muslim-bin-Aqeel, who were the cousin of Imaam Husain SA. The sons, namely Mohammed and Ibraheem were killed in Kufa along with their father. We also visited the garden of Imaam Jaffar-us-Sadiq SA. This wadi is still ripe with date trees and date fruits. We too received a share of these dates to bring back home.
NAJAF :- After having spent 7 days in Karbala, we left for Najaf by bus which took us 4 hours. Najaf is also known as Najaf-ul-Ashraf. This is a prominent destination as it has the Holy Shrine of Maulana Ali-ibn-Abi Taalib SA, who is also called Ameer-ul-Mumineen SA (leader of Mumins). Though Maulana Ali SA was martyred in Kufa Masjid, he is buried in Najaf. History says that before Maulana Ali SA breathed his last, he told his sons Imaam Hasan SA and Imaam Husain SA that 2 angels will descend on earth and will lead the funeral procession from the front, followed by Imaam Hasan SA and Imaam Husain SA at the back. The sons were asked to bury his body where the angels took them. The angels stopped at Najaf and hence, this place came to be also known as Najaf-ul-Ashraf meaning Najaf the best. Very near to the shrine of Maulana Ali SA, there is the biggest and oldest graveyard in the world which is called Wadi-e-Islam. Inside this graveyard, there is a small mausoleum of Prophet Hudd AS and Prophet Saleh AS, whose references are made in the Holy Qur’an. The references of Nabi (prophet) Hudd AS are with regard to his clan which was Kaum-e-Aad; the people of this tribe were very huge, strong and well-built. Whereas the reference of Nabi Saleh AS is with regard to his miracle of bringing a 10 month pregnant camel from a rock on the request of his clan (Kaum-e-Samood).
KUFA :- Kufa is significant in many ways, primarily because it was the place where Ameer-ul-Mumineen Maulana Ali SA was martyred by Abdur-Rehman-Ibn-e-Muljim LA. The Urdu word Muljim finds its origin in his name. The greatness of Maulana Ali SA lies in the fact that after being attacked, he insisted that his sons Imaam Hasan SA and Imaam Husain SA give Ibn-e-Muljim LA sufficient food. Maulana Ali SA knew that Ibn-e-Muljim LA had stayed hungry for many days in making preparations to attack him.
During our stay at Kufa, we visited the Kufa Masjid which has been completely renovated and restored by the religious head of the Bohra Community, Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin Saheb RA. The Masjid has Ziyarats of Muslim bin Aqeel RA and Hani-ibn-Urwa RA. Also, we visited the shrine of Kumail SA, a very close confidante of Maulana Ali SA. A prayer called Dua-e-Kumail has been named after him. It is said that a person should recite this prayer at least once in a lifetime.
Moreover, we did Ziyarat of Meytham-bin-Yahya-at-Tammar. Meytham is believed to be an ardent follower of Maulana Ali SA. He always said praises for him. He too had been martyred. After having finished all 4 legs of our journey, we prepared ourselves for our way back home. We are thankful to Almighty Allah for blessing us last year with Holy Hajj (Mecca and Medina) and this year with Holy Ziyarat of Karbala and Najaf.
– by Jasmine Abazer Biviji (Mumbai)